HNRS 195J-001

Honors Course: The Meaning of Honor - Four Medieval Epic Poems


Instructor: Prof. Albrecht Classen, Dept. of German Studies, 301 LSB, The University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721;; 520 621-1395;


Class Meetings: Harvil 303, Wed. 9 a.m.

Class Objectives: This is a colloquium, a true university forum to explore new texts, ideas, values, and concepts in a social-historical, cultural-literary context. Reading a selection of heroic epic poems from the Middle Ages, we will be able to discuss what honor meant in the past and how we would fashion our own concept of honor in the present. This course does not intend to swear us into the medieval value system. Instead, the purpose is to bring to light how people in the past have discussed honor, where the honor principle has failed, why it has failed, and what we can learn from that. This will also allow us to gain familiarity with some of the 'classical' texts from the Middle Ages.


Class Material: 1. "The Battle of Maldon" ( Please download and bring with you to class. 2. Beowulf. 3. Nibelungenlied. 4. El Poema de Mio Cid.

Class Structure: Since this is a such a small class, or rather a colloquium, we can use the utmost freedom in an academic setting and explore the texts together in open discussions.

Grading: Keep a journal and write ca. 2 pages (ca. 600 words) per week. Essentially, reflect upon the texts, raise issues, formulate questions. I will collect these journals 4 times per semester. For the last time, please review the entire class and write a kind of synopsis of where you stand regarding those texts, and what you have learned.


Jan. 19: Introduction; The Battle of Maldon

Jan. 26: The Battle of Maldon

Feb.  2: Beowulf

Feb.  9: Beowulf

Feb.16: Beowulf

Feb. 23: Beowulf; 1st journal

March: 2: Nibelungenlied (NL)

March 9: NL

March 12-20: Spring Break

March 23: NL

March 30: NL

April 6: NL; 2nd journal

April 13: NL/El Cid

April 20: El Cid

April 27: El Cid

May 3 (Tue: can we find an evening hour, say, 7 p.m.?): El Cid

May 9: 3rd journal (in my mailbox, please)